Many college students rely on a credit or debit card to pay for meals out, necessities and other expenses. While some choose to use services like PayPal and Venmo to transfer money to each other so that shared costs can be covered, others might choose to hand over cash. College students need to be aware of the possibility of being accused of credit or debit card fraud.

Some students might be shocked to learn that there are times when this accusation can fly even if they didn’t steal anyone’s card. It is imperative to know some specific things about proper debit and credit card usage.

Fraud due to theft

Some forms of credit and debit card fraud are related to theft. These offenses are usually covered under state law, but it is also possible to run afoul of federal laws if you illegally obtain another person’s card to use without their permission.

Fraudulently charging a card

It is also against the law to accept a payment from a credit or debit card that you know is being used without the account holder’s permission. This means that a person could theoretically face criminal charges without ever putting their hands on a card. Sometimes this charge is used against sellers who knowingly take payments from unauthorized cards.

Fraud with your own card

While it is uncommon since most retailers charge a card immediately, it is against the law to present a card for payment if you know that it is expired, revoked or doesn’t have the available funds or credit to cover the charges. You should ensure you always know what you can cover with a card just in case you run into a situation in which the retailer doesn’t take the payment immediately.

Fraud from identity theft

It is illegal to open a credit account or any financial account using another person’s identity. You also can’t take over an existing account if it isn’t yours and you aren’t an account holder. If you are taking over another person’s credit account for any reason, make sure you handle it legally through the creditor.

You should also be careful if anyone gives you their card and gives you permission to use it. If they come back and claim they didn’t, you might face charges for fraud. This can be a very serious criminal matter for a college student and must be handled carefully.